Require flat-panel displays on the backs of tall vehicles

Every driver of a regular car knows this frustration well. You're behind a big SUV or Minivan and you can no longer see what's happening ahead of you, the way you can with ordinary cars. This is not simply because the ordinary cars are shorter, it's because you can see through the windows of the ordinary car -- they are at your level.

Of course trucks have always blocked the way but in the past they were few in number. Now that half the cars on the road are tall, being blocked is becoming the norm. This is dangerous, since good driving requires tracking the cars in front of the one you are following, and reacting to their brake lights as well.

Now that flat planel displays are plumetting in price, I propose that any vehicle that can't be easily seen through by a driver in a standard height car must put a flat screen display on the back, said display showing the view of a camera on the front of the vehicle ideally configured to act like a window would for a car at some modest distance behind the screen.

(A really clever display would track the distance of the car behind and zoom the view so it acts exactly like a window if it were big enough, or at least show what a big window would.)

I'm not talking HDTV here, though of course that would be nice and would become the norm a few years later. It might just be a 20" widescreen style display. For computers, these are dropping under $500 with HD resolution, and less with TV resolution. Admittedly car-mounted units would start off being more expensive in order to be rugged enough, though lots of people are putting small panels in their cars today.

It would of course need a very bright backlight for daytime, and an automatic adjustment of brightness for the night.

Quite a bit cheaper would be to just have the SUV/Minivans have the camera, and transmit the video over RF. The drivers of cars could be the ones to have to buy screens, in this case small dashboard screens which are cheaper than big ones and already exist in many cars for GPS. The big problem here is only receiving the signal of the car in front of you. You would need a protocol where cars that transmit also receive with highly directional antennas. Thus they would examine the direction of all signals they receive from other cameras, automatically pick a free band, and then transmit, "I'm car X. Car Y is in front of me, car Z in front of it. Cars A and B are right front and direct right, car C is left, car D is behind me (probably you!)" In fact it would be giving signal strength info from all directionals. It should be pretty easy then to tell, with all that info from all the cars around you, which is the car directly in front of you.

Then display it on the dash or even in a heads up display where the tail of the car is.

For privacy reason, cars could change their serial number from time to time so this can't track them, though there is a virtue in broadcasting the licence plate so you can confirm you are really seeing the view of the car ahead of you by reading the plate.

This solution would cost under $50 for the camera and transmitter, much easier to mandate. The receiver would be an option car owners could buy. Not as fair of course, since the vision blockers should be the ones paying for this.


...for my Prius (where the posts supporting the roof are rather thick to include side-impact airbags) is flatscreens that let me effectively see through those posts; making them seem invisible would be far too difficult, but even a slightly distorted image would be valuable for preventing blind spots.
The video over RF is a good idea as long as there’s enough information for the heads-up display on your car to put the image in the right place on the windshield. I wouldn’t want people taking their eyes off the road to look at a screen in the dashboard to do that.

You could try a proper following distance.

Though of course on today's highways if you keep a proper following distance in traffic of any density it will be quickly filled by another SUV.

But the vision problem with tall vehicles applies not just at speed, but when stopped in slow traffic. You lose the sense your normally have of what's happening on the street. Surely everybody has felt this, unless they never drive a normal height car any more.

How about something much more simple- put a trivial directional RF transmitter on brakes lights, then you could have a receiver to give you a bit more advance warning of large numbers of cars braking ahead. This would be particularly useful on high-traffic freeways where a slow down up ahead can quickly turn into chain reaction rear-enders as people aren't leaving nearly enough following distance but still driving rather fast. It would be an obvious advantage in fog or around curves.

In fact, there is already part of this system in place. Many emergency vehicles are now carrying transmitters that send out a simple encoded message to radar detectors. But for the "brake light" frequency, we could even forgo the encoding to keep costs down, and a retrofit unit could simply plug into a taillight socket.

Amazing, a month a go I was following a truck and I was thinking that they should be equipped with flat panel in the back and camera in the front.
In 95 I was thinking to patent or go and see GM or Ford about the break lights system. Mine was infrared or ultrasound.
All cars and trucks had to be equipped with that of course.
The first car would brake sending a signal to the car behind,(it's why I was thinking IR or US because of the directionality) the second car would relay this signal and send it to the third car without anybody touching the brakes,but the brake lights would turn on automatically, and so on. That way the 10th car would see the brake lights on the 9th car at the same time the 2nd car would see the lights on the 1st. So, immediate time of reaction.
But now Mercedes came out with a radar that keep distance automatically and brake for you so everything is obsolete.

Sorry but as a cyclist, the last thing I want is your "RF" version. While the display on the back of the forward large vehicle is a good idea, any thing that requires a motorist to take their eyes off the road in front of them is a bad idea. Transmitting an RF signal to the vehicle behind so that they can gaze at their monitor vice watching the road ahead is a bad idea.

Drivers are already isolated enough from the road environment... they don't need "view by wire" to complicate things even further. Between Cell phones, CD players, tinted windows, GPS, DVD, french fries, coffee, talking passengers and climate control, motorists only have their eyes to keep in touch with the motoring environment... don't distract them even further.

I am presuming this monitor is on the dash above the wheel, or even is a heads up display. The panel on the back is better but a lot more expensive and the cost is put on people who don't gain from it, which makes it a harder sell -- would require a law actually.

Add new comment